Feature Articles

November 6, 2000

Round Up The Usual Suspects 2

By John William Tuohy

John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washingon, D.C.

compiled by John William Tuohy

Los Angeles: A federal judge sentenced Joseph Isgro, a former record promotion big shot, film producer and alleged New York Mafia member, to fifty months in prison for running a loansharking operation.

     Isgro, the executive producer of the 1992 film ``Hoffa,'' pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy and extortion charges in connection with the loansharking ring.

     Two other defendants, Valentino Bartolone and Anthony Saitta, pleaded guilty to similar charges in connection with the operation and are awaiting sentencing.

     Prosecutors say Isgro, the owner of Private I Records, and his codefendants loaned money to debtors at an interest rate of five percent per week, and threatened them with violence if that debt was not repaid on time.

     Prosecutors say Isgro is a soldier in the Gambino crime family. He was indicted in 1989 on 57 counts of racketeering, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and engaging in ''payola,'' the practice of paying radio stations to play his label's songs.

     Prosecutors at the time accused him of offering radio stations inducements ranging from cash to prostitutes to get his artists on the air in what was then called the biggest payola case in history.

     But a federal judge dismissed the indictment against Isgro, saying that key evidence had been withheld from the defense.

Carbondale, Pa: Al Gore has finally won the endorsement by the 1.4 million Teamsters union after nearly a year of courtship and delay. The teamsters are currently under federal guardianship for their previous and widespread dealing with organized crime.

Miami: A Jamaican man whom authorities say led the notorious "Shower Posse" of drug smugglers in the mid-1980s was sentenced this week to 28 years in prison on drug charges.

     Vivian Blake, who was extradited from Jamaica, entered a guilty plea in February. Under terms of a plea agreement in which Blake said he would cooperate on other drug investigations, prosecutors had asked for the 28-year sentence.

     The Shower Posse, so-called because it sprayed victims with gunfire, was a notorious and violent gang which dealt in drugs in New York and Florida in the mid-1980s. It was believed responsible for hundreds of killings.

New York: Mary Jo White, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Barry W. Mawn, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation jointly announced that two alleged members of the so called "Russian Mafia" Oleg Zezov (a/k/a "Oleg Zezev a/k/a "Oleg Dzezev," a/k/a "Alex,) and his alleged partner in crime Igor Yarimaka, both of Kazakhstan were arrested on August 10, 2000 in London, England for allegedly breaking into Bloomberg computer system in Manhattan in an attempt to extort money from Bloomberg.

     According to the Complaints, Zezov gained unauthorized access to the internal Bloomberg Computer System from computers located in Almaty, Kazakhstan. In or about the Spring of 1999, Bloomberg provided database services, via a system known as the "Open Bloomberg," to Kazkommerts Securities ("Kazkommerts") located in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

     Zezov is employed by Kazkommerts and is one of four individuals at Kazkommerts associated with Kazkommert's contract with Bloomberg.

     In addition, Zezov allegedly sent a number of e-mails to Michael Bloomberg, the founder and owner of Bloomberg, using the name "Alex," demanding that Bloomberg pay him $200,000 in exchange for providing information to Bloomberg concerning how Zezov was able to infiltrate Bloomberg's computer system.

     Michael Bloomberg sent an e-mail to Zezov suggesting that they meet to which Zezov replied with a demanded that Bloomberg deposit $200,000 into an offshore account. Bloomberg established an account at Deutsche Bank in London and deposited $200,000 into the account and then suggested, when Zezov contacted him again, that they resolve the matter in London and Zezov agreed.

     On August 6, 2000, Yarimaka and Zezov flew from Kazakhstan to London and on August 10, met with officials from Bloomberg L.P., including Michael Bloomberg, and two London Metropolitan police officers, one posing as a Bloomberg L.P. executive and the other serving as a translator. At the meeting, YARIMAKA allegedly claimed that he was a former Kazakhstan prosecutor and explained that he represented "Alex" and would handle the terms of payment.

     Shortly after the meeting Yarimaka and Zezov were arrested.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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